merry christmas

from our family, to yours...


tis the season: santa - round three

round three with santa clause...and in this case, mrs. clause as well (isn't that precious???)...

this time we didn't even try to get coleman to play along (i totally would've, but matt's a wimp and wasn't willing to test c's patience in a fancy smancy room full of respectable adults!). 

so...what's a girl to do when there is a santa, mrs. clause, and no willing child? well, she's to force her teenage stepson to pose with her of course! he's such a good sport!

111210 Chip's breakfast 02 - Holly & Spencer copy


tis the season: deck the halls

i'm gonna be honest...decorating has been a tough thing this year. i lacked my normal motivation and christmas spirit. the thought of certain decorating tasks felt like....well, tasks! i wanted our home to feel like christmas with the warm glow and scents, like it always does. but executing it was a different story. add in to this that our floors were being redone in the middle of december...on the main floor of our home...where most of the decorating is done...yeah, that really helped with the motivation. 

so, i took a more minimalist approach...focused on the things that bring happiness to our little crew of four. things moved more slowly than normal, but eventually we got to a point of a decorated home, though much less glamorous than past years. 

111204 Coleman decorating his tree 02 

coleman had this tree in his room last year but didn't pay it any mind. but this year, i decided to put it on a small chair at his level (rather than on his bookshelf). i gotta give myself props...good move! it made all the diffference. he was so excited and proud of his little tree that he decorated all by himself. it didn't matter that there were trees in the house nine times as tall as his, with sparkling lights...all that mattered was this was his tree

  111204 Coleman with nativity 03

earlier this year, i lucked out and finally found the fisher price nativity scene (even got it for a great price at target!). i was a tiny bit worried that maybe coleman was getting too old for it. but that was unnecessary.  he loves it. our windowsill in the breakfast nook is the perfect toddler-height spot for it. 

111204 Matt & Coleman napping 

after a long day of decorating...these two were pooped out, apparently (but i pressed on!)...

111205 Christmas decor 03 

these lights here...they have been the heartache of the season. the garland on the stairs was stripped of its old lights and restrung. this photo was taken right afterwards when all was working. it didn't last for long. the bottom half went out first...and now, as i type this, the garland is completely burnt out. and i don't have the "umph" in me to restring it. again. 

the pre-lit fake tree upstairs...similar story. multiple parts of it were no longer lit. matt, spencer and i all struggled to fix it. we tried everything we could. no luck. ultimately, i restrung the top portion of the tree so it would look presentable from the entrance of the house and left the rest (the only way you'd see the back of the tree is to go into coleman's or our bedroom). but alas, another portion of the tree has sense burnt out. needless to say, this normally gorgeous display of twinkle is looking pretty dim this year. 

but let's move on to more positive things...

  111210 Coleman decorating tree 04

coleman was totally into putting ornaments on the tree this year. it's nice to have an enthusiastic helper again. (spencer still plays along but his heart just isn't in it like it used to be!). 

111210 Coleman's idea of a party 01i

and this photo just makes me smile...this is an empty reel (designed to hold christmas lights) and a pot holder destined for good will. he insisted on playing with them both and kept saying "it's a party". cracks me up. 

111210 Decorating Tree 04 - Spencer 

and proof that spencer does still help with a smile...here he's putting the ceremonious first ornament on our live tree. 

  111210 Decorating Tree 05 - Matt

and here is our posed picture. every year we make matt hang one ornament...and he has to do it slowly so i can capture a photo. future generations will have false illusions that matt actually participated in the christmas decorating activities.


tis the season: santa - round two

this was coleman's second meeting of santa this christmas season. 

111203 Matt +Coleman + Santa 02 

the event: a morning event hosted by matt's company

 111203 Matt +Coleman + Santa 03

the attempt: matt's willingness to sit with santa also

111203 Matt +Coleman + Santa 04

the hope: just one good photo. maybe? sort of? 

111203 Matt +Coleman + Santa 01 copy

the outcome: good enough :)

at least there were no tears...
and one photo where his head isn't buried. 
baby steps. 


tis the season: christmasville

several years ago, our city began hosting a christmas festival called christmasville. matt and i were immediately fans. (matt loves the city, i love fesitvals. perfect match). with spencer being older when it first began, we have struggled to find things for everyone. this year was no different. coleman was old enough to enjoy some pieces...and we just drag spencer along for the ride. 

we did some shopping with local vendors. we checked out the gingerbread house contest (always one of spencer's highlights). we toughed out a long line so coleman could take a train ride...and it was worth it. look at this face....

111203 Christmasville 03a - Coleman & Matt 

and these faces aren't too bad either... 

  111203 Christmasville 06 - Spencer & Holly

111203 Christmasville 12 - Coleman

the last thing we did was catch a dog comedy show. it was pretty darned entertaining! i think we all enjoyed it! here are my boys in the audience...

111203 Christmasville 13 - Spencer + Coleman + Matt


tis the season: penland tree farm

one of the reasons i love the holiday season so much is because of traditions. christmastime just screams "family traditions", and i'm not quoting hank williams, jr. here. i'm all about trying new things, but i also adore finding something that works and sticking with it. making memories each year. passing those things on to new little folks and even new generations...

111202 Penland 01 

penland tree farm is one of those meanignful traditions for our family. it's only a few years old (see, to find awesome traditions, you have to be willing to try something new!!). all four of us love and look forward to choosing our tree there. 

  111202 Penland 24 collage
instagram photos; collage created in diptic app

it's not just the christmas trees. it's the ambience. the overall experience. the free hot chocolate  and coffee (spencer's favorite) and the bonfire. it's the huge hill for climbing. it's the incredibly nice staff and even the reasonable prices. (though i would gladly overpay for the tree to get the experience). 

111202 Penland 11 - Matt

i adore this photo of matt. i don't even remember why exactly he laughing so hard but i love that i captured a moment of true joy. 
111202 Penland 16 - Spencer & Coleman

and this is the hill. the hill that creates a battle with coleman every year when it's time to leave. but it's worth it. the boys have a blast, despite the decade between them. they go home filthy, happy and exhausted. 

111202 Penland 17 - Spencer

what big brother does...

111202 Penland 18 - Coleman

...so goes little brother...

111202 Penland 19 - Spencer & Coleman

...monkey see, monkey do...

111202 Penland 14  - Spencer & Coleman copy

and the photo of the day goes to this snapshot. 
in full disclosure: this was edited. the original photo included the silhouette and the sunset. but i tweaked it in PSE7 to make it a bit more dramatic. so sue me. 


career mama: a new low

so, i may have just reached a whole new low. or maybe a high. depends on your perspective, i suppose.

i just made goody bags for the daycare christmas party. in the car. while driving. including curly ribbon. and when I realized I didn't have scissors within reach (because they are in the car somewhere), I just used my pocket knife. cuz I'm classy like that. (and yes it worked...curled like a charm).

for what it's worth, this wasn't my original intent. I brought the stuff to work thinking I'd whip them up there. I have no idea WHY I thought that, other than I must've been smoking some mighty fine crack. When I left work early, i figured I'd run my errands and throw the bags together at home before hitting the party...and then I hit the interstate, which greatly resembled a parking lot. at that point my brain went into improv mode. by the time my speedometer hit 60, I had one wrapped teacher gift and 8 goody bags adorned with redneck-curled ribbon

final analysis of this experience:
+2 points for thinking quickly and finding a solution
-10 points for doing something so stupid while driving
+5 points for pocket knife use
-4 points for being lazy and not having done the bags the night before
+3 points for sharing my new low in a public forum so other moms can feel better about themselves
-3 points for typing this post while driving
+2 points for actually writing a blog post at all.
+3 points for actually using numbers and the word "analysis" in a post about goody bags
+2 good behavior points for not flipping off the suburban in front me going 60 in the left lane.

Did you do the math? It's a wash. But the bags are done and I'm alive.


tradition {letters from santa}

a couple of years ago, i discovered the most amazing website that sends letters from santa to your child(ren). the price is reasonable and letters can be entirely customized by you. they come in a shiny package with authentic north pole postmark. 

091222 Letter from Santa 01
spencer with the letter from santa - 2009

spencer was already eleven years old when i first began this and he was still pretty excited about it. even last year, at 12, he thought it was cool. he enjoyed opening the letter and reading it to his little brother. 

101210 Letter from Santa 01 - Spencer

101210 Letter from Santa 03 - M +C + S
photos from letter arrival 2010

disclaimer: i have no affiliation with this site, nor have i received any free product from them. i simply think it's awesome and would highly recommend it to anyone to help bring the spirit of santa into your home. 


celebrate {july 2011}

celebrate {big moments}
  • happy independence day with multiple celebrations 
  • we celebrated my 33rd birthday
  • reached 1,000 on my one thousands gifts list
110702 4th Celebration at Chandlers 08 

110711 Holly's Bday 03

celebrate {little moments}
  • we all went shopping at ikea - mainly for work 
  • the end of spencer's spring/summer baseball season
  • spencer tried out for fall baseball 
  • neighborhood playground
    110709 Coleman at playground 01
celebrate {struggles}
  • i had two more flat tires. no, not on the same day. 
  • almost house fire
  • laptop died 
110725 Machine to get rid of stink

110713 Coleman's temper tantrum 02 

  celebrate {family}
  • wrapped up our family beach vacation
  • fourth of july at britt's house - cookout, pool
    110704 4th at the Blackwells 20 - Matt + Spencer + Coleman
celebrate {friends}
  • fourth of july shindig at the chandler home
  • fireworks and water play time with the monks
  • spencer's friend, heath, spent the night
  • coleman and i went on a park playdate with cassidy and giada 
110703 4th at the Monks 06 - Spencer + Colton + Coleman

110724 Spencer + Heath in car

  celebrate {home}
  • captured a week in the life (in photos via iphone + instagram)
  • matt tried diligently to clean our home of the smoky smell
  • organized some of spencer's old school work
110716 Unorganized Artwork


'tis the season: daniel stowe botanical gardens

while michelle & maggie were in town for thanksgiving, us girls (and coleman) decided to do something christmasy. we looked over our options and chose to drive up to daniel stowe botanical gardens. it had been a few years since i had been (and this was coleman's first go 'round). i knew he'd love it. it's all about running around outside and checking out awesome christmas lights...what rambunctious toddler wouldn't love that???

11.25.2011 Coleman at Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens

as soon as we arrived, we hopped over to see santa clause. coleman wasn't a fan last year and i wasn't expecting much this time, but why not try??? i went to santa, so he followed, but on the other side of me (see top photo below). he was forced to walk in front of him and gladly took the offered candy cane...but that was it. 

later, after we were back inside, aunt sherry had her photo taken with santa (standing up casually, not a "formal" setting). i seized the opportunity to sneak up beside santa. there was a little more interaction this time. still apprehensive but no tears and an overall good experience. we were lucky that santa is so kind and wonderful with children! maybe this positive experience will help coleman warm up to the jolly ole fellow!

11.25.2011 Coleman + Santa

all photos taken on my iphone 4 and edited with the instagram and diptic apps.